Friday, January 1, 2010

Blessing in the New Year, and The Feast Day of the Holy Name

Blessings to you and yours this New Years Day. I hope you had a safe and sane evening, and are enjoying whatever you enjoy on this special day.

Today is the Feast Day of The Holy Name, the day commemorating when Jesus was circumcised, the ritual Bris milah, or Brit milah, the traditional ceremony for infant Jewish boys to name and mark them as Jews.

Today's feast day won popularity in the Church in the Middle Ages, and various monastic orders considered it particularly important probably because of its emphasis on the vows taken on behalf of Jesus.

The familiar emblem on the blog today is thought to have gained popularity from Saint Bernardino of Sienna (1380-1440) who associated it with the circumcision and naming of Jesus.

The day is a reminder that Jesus was first and foremost Jewish; that he was brought up in the traditional faith of his mother and father; that all of his references to Scripture -- to "the Law and Prophets," to Torah -- are all references to the Hebrew Scriptures, the "Old Testament." Jesus challenged the religious authorities of his day from the stance of being a devout Jew.

All that may sound obvious, but Christian history is strewn with the bloodshed and persecution of Jews, and there are Christians today that deny that Jesus was Jewish, or who are simply ignorant of the origins of their own religion. The Feast Day of The Holy Name is a good time to stop and think about our own history. When Christians have persecuted Jews, they have persecuted Christ himself. It is a good day to collectively repent and ask again for G-d's forgiveness.

Today's Collect:
Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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